Typically I write about 3 episodes of TV in this column. However today I have decided to tackle the entirety of the second season of the Netflix Original House of Cards. So let’s get to it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: *For those that haven’t seen the following episodes, SPOILERS may be present from here on out.*)
Chapter 14 (S2E01)
And here we go again…
Francis Underwood played by Kevin Spacey is about to be sworn in as the new Vice President of The United States of America. Season 1 really laid the foundation of the premiere episode of season 2. Here we are thrown back in the deep end with Frank and Claire or as some see them, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This is not a far off view point since this and Richard III come up as inspiration for the performances, the writing, the original BBC series and book it was based on. Regardless, the wheels of the Underwood power grab are in motion. Frank moves to get a new Whip to replace him that he can work with – enter Jackie Sharp. With that in motion, Frank and Doug work to resolve any outstanding issues from Peter Russo’s death from last year. Doug moves Rachel out of town and well Frank, he finds a permanent solution to the Zoe problem. Claire uses the new move to VP by Frank to give up her company and use it to bribe Gillian. Ah, I love it when the Underwoods are being ruthless. This is a great episode to reignite the fire of the series for viewers.
Chapter 15-25 (S2E02-12)
Out, damned spot!
The next eleven episodes continue the 3 main stories of this season: Frank’s power grab, the hacker and the continuing adventures of Rachel. Mirroring real life, Frank is in the process of solving a government shutdown. He does succeed but makes more enemies along the way. Next he continues to make friends when he tries to convince an old colleague to help him during a quarantine of the congress. He gets embroiled in back channel dealings with the Chinese that does not go well for him or America. Due to this issue, the conflict between Frank and Tusk ratchets up during the ensuing energy crisis. Since Tusk is being ousted from the President’s inner circle by Frank, he begins to fight back and shift support to the GOP for the midterms causing Frank more tension with the President. As Frank continues his battle with Raymond Tusk, played brilliantly by Gerald McRaney, he also begins his finishing blow to Linda, the President’s Chief of Staff. She resigns due to Frank’s continuing pressure. Tusk really starts to fight dirty by releasing photos of Claire taken by her former lover, Adam from the first season. Frank has to help put out that fire when Freddy gets dragged down by Tusk as well and is forced to cut ties. The dirt is really flying now and they only get worse as Frank pushes a reporter down a path to discover the finance scandal behind the democrats fundraising through the casino via Tusk and the Chinese. Frank is now on a full court press with multiple fronts in his battle for the White House, the whole time letting us know that it is a very delicate and fragile line he is balancing to keep all the balls in the air for his multi front battle for power. If you thought Spacey’s Frank Underwood was scary in the the first season, look out… he is firing on all cylinders here.
After Frank takes care of Zoe, Lucas jumps on the crusade to finish what she started. He tries to enlist a hacker to help prove some of his and Zoe’s claims about Frank. Doug gets involved and enlists the FBI to set Lucas up. You can imagine how well that goes for Lucas. He is now in jail for cyber-terrorism and all hope is fading. Meanwhile Rachel keeps on being a nuisance for Doug and he is starting to get distracted by her. He had moved her in a hope to lessen the chances of anyone finding her and connecting the dots regarding Peter Russo. As Doug keeps lording over Rachel, it starts to get more and more tense as he forces her to end her new relationship. This minor plot point really picks up steam in the back half of the season and has consequences in the finale. These episodes constitute the meat and potatoes of the season and really flesh out many of the characters and plots that have been around since season one and now two. The tension is always felt as the Underwoods continue their giant game of chess with the U.S. political system as they reach for ultimate power.
Chapter 26 (S2E13)
This shit just got real
Linda returns to the President’s inner circle as they try to push back against Frank. Jackie Sharp continues her push to help impeach the President to save the Democrats chances at the Mid-terms as Frank hopes. While Frank and the President begin to woo Tusk for help against the other, he also tries to woo Walker back into his sphere of influence. He writes him a very impassioned and moving letter accompanied by a letter of admission in his role in the financial scandal. It’s another daring move against the President. The President likes the gesture and Tusk falls to the allure of Frank’s promise and gives damning testimony against President Walker. Walker then resigns giving Frank his letter back in the process as he is about to become the new President. Claire shows, for a brief moment, her first real emotion since season one when visiting Meghan after the U.S. Services reform bill is scrapped. But only a few moments later, she lets Frank know how the world works and what must be done. It’s a great juxtaposition from her moment a few minutes earlier. She continues to be shown as a very complex character with a few good traits to go along with the long list of bad. The hacker that was involved with Lucas just won’t go away and puts a new level of pressure on Doug Stemper. This forces Doug to scramble and force Rachel to move again. This latest change by Doug ends up pushing Rachel too far. Doug ends up feeling the price of that pressure when Rachel brings his world down. Frank faces down the Chinese threat and wins in his first hours as President, something that former President Walker wasn’t able to do in the weeks leading up to this day. This earns him imediate political power and standing and a major issue. As Frank is about about to take the Oval Office, Claire gives him a small token as a surprise. She had his class ring remade after he buried it earlier in the season at the site of one of his forefathers’ death in the Civil War.
Overall, the entirety of the second season was amazing political drama. Tense and fast paced with countless moves and counter moves that seemingly make no sense until later, with major payoffs. The Underwoods continue, as friend and novelist Adrienne Kress has said, “…I believe to be one of the most wonderful representations of a couple on television, of a couple that understands the importance of communication and respect, that is a true team and expresses their affection for each other on a regular basis”. Yes they are sociopaths with no remorse for their actions to others but they continue to completely support and are honest with each other. That is more than I can say for 98% of the relationships in the world today. Even good people lie either to themselves or their partners and do questionable things. Their twisted moral code aside, they make you hate yourself for rooting for them along the way and remind us that we should be so lucky to have a relationship like theirs even though we’re disgusted for even thinking about it. For if we did, we may actually be capable of the acts they commit through each of these first two seasons.
While they only signed for 2 seasons not too long ago, Netflix announced they had renewed the series for a 3rd season which may in fact be the last. Looking at the events and path of these characters, it’s hard to believe that there is much left in the tank for this group. If that is in fact the case then thank you for this glorious series. It never fails to impress and entertain each time. If you haven’t watched this show yet or haven’t watched season 2, STOP right now, and rectify that today.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!